Chapter 3, Part 3 – Defending the Scope of Practice

Defending the Scope of Practice

Despite the remarkable recovery and growth experienced by Western States in 1947, it came at a time when the chiropractic profession was under attack. In early 1947, Oregon State Senate Bill 287 was introduced to the legislature by a group of 20 chiropractors. If passed, the bill would severely restrict the practice of chiropractic, eliminating the practice of minor surgery, obstetrics and other aspects of the broad scope of chiropractic practice in Oregon.

Budden’s gift for eloquence would be called upon to defend chiropractic as it was taught at Western States College.

On March 4, 1947, Drs. Alfred Budden and R. H. Harris testified before a joint house and senate committee on medicine as representatives of the chiropractic profession. In defense of the practice of obstetrics by chiropractors, Dr. Budden argued that pregnancy and childbirth were natural processes amenable to management by practitioners whose education, training and focus were on natural, non-invasive, healing practices. He was quick to enumerate the many successful births experienced by women under the care of chiropractors. He educated the legislators about the complications and consequences associated with the use of anesthetics during childbirth, a practice common to the medical profession at that time.

In defense of minor surgery, Dr. Budden advocated the preservation of diseased tonsils through electro-cauterization, as opposed to medicine’s approach of complete surgical removal. It was also left to Dr. Budden to explain the widening schism occurring within the chiropractic profession, as evidenced by the bill submitted by chiropractors. As part of his explanation, Dr. Budden pointed out the chiropractors representing the bill had received an 18-month education that focused primarily on theory and did not prepare them to practice the breadth and depth of the Oregon scope of practice.

Dr. Budden argued his college offered an intensive, four-year program that focused primarily on the education and training of physicians. His arguments were compelling and ultimately, convincing. The committee on medicine did not recommend Senate Bill 287 for adoption. The practice of minor surgery and obstetrics remains within the chiropractic scope of practice of Oregon today, due in large part to Dr. Budden’s articulate advocacy and eloquent defense of the profession in 1947.

In August 1947, the National Chiropractic Association founded the Council on Education (CE). The CE was charged with creating educational standards for chiropractic colleges. The Council on Education was comprised of two branches with separate duties and responsibilities. The presidents of all the chiropractic colleges made up one branch while the other consisted of appointed and elected representatives from trade organizations within the chiropractic profession (e.g., International Chiropractic Association, National Chiropractic Association, Chiropractic Licensing Boards) The two groups worked conjointly in drafting policies and educational standards, but the latter branch was charged with accrediting the chiropractic colleges. It would be decades before the process of accrediting chiropractic colleges was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, but the initial step to achieving that objective had been made, and much of the credit for this accomplishment must be given to Dr. W. A. Budden and his ally, Dr. John J. Nugent.

1947 was also the year in which a rather innocuous-appearing bill was passed by the Oregon state legislature and signed into law. Dr. Budden had frequently appeared before the legislature to advocate passage of the bill. The new law funded the appointment of a “Demonstrator of Anatomy.” It was the demonstrator’s responsibility to find, prepare and “impartially” distribute cadavers for dissection to schools preparing candidates for the basic science examination.

WSC and other non-allopathic institutions of higher learning in Oregon routinely found themselves last on the cadaver distribution list. Prior to the creation of the demonstrator position, distribution of cadavers had been under the tight control of the allopathic profession and it was not unusual for WSC to find itself without cadavers for anatomy lab and without an explanation as to why. It was the impartiality clause that ultimately ended the grip of allopathic medicine and provided for a more equitable distribution of cadavers to all healing arts schools. Dr. Budden made certain of this—he now had the law on his side.

This was no small victory for the college, profoundly enhancing the teaching of anatomy and student understanding of the human body at WSC.